Panzanella with sage vinegar

What to do with raw sage? Stick a few leaves in a bottle of unassuming white vinegar, and leave it alone. Within a day you will have something very special to glug on salads, and panzanella is as good a salad as any, the kind that demands more acid than oil. I learned to make this as an intern at a B&B type place in Italy, a good way to use up stale bread we forgot about under the stairs. No one was the wiser. I don’t like versions that call for celery or too many other ingredients. This is basically just 3, and the sage vinegar stands in beautifully for basil or other herbs. The bread I used this time was not stale, so I toasted it up in a frying pan, which gave the cubes a slightly singed, pancake-y flavor. I recommend using the sweetest, strongest tasting tomatoes you can find, preferably grape or cherry, in lieu of ripe beefsteak, roma or heirloom variety. A lot of good things going on in this salad.

Panzanella with sage vinegar


  • small carton of grape tomatoes
  • half a loaf of stale bread, croutons or toasted bread cubes
  • half a small onion (red or white), finely minced
  • oil and vinegar (steeped with sage leaves)
Cube the bread into bite-sized chunks. To crisp up, heat a skillet and add a tablespoon of oil or so and toss the bread cubes until they begin to brown. Be careful they don’t burn. Meanwhile, slice all the tomatoes in half, toss with minced onion, bread and serve and toss with a generous glug of sage vinegar and olive oil. Sprinkle with extra salt and pepper. Refrigerate. Best if served cold, when the bread has become slightly mushy.